Imperial Shih Tzu, Miniature, Munchkin or Dwarf, Tiny Imperial, Tiny Teacup, Chinese Imperial, and Tiny Toy Shih Tzu are all names that are being used interchangeable to refer to Shih Tzu dogs that are smaller than the AKC breed standard of 9 to 16 pounds.
The life span of the Chinese Imperial is the same as the standard size with most living 12 to 15 years. They have no more serious health problems than the larger Shih Tzu, and are not small because they are unhealthy. They are small because the breeders have carefully selected their breeding dogs to have smaller lines.
China is the earliest known source for the breed. Similar dogs were popular in the Imperial court during the Song Dynasty. In ancient times, Pugs were bred to be companions for ruling families in China. The pet Pugs were highly valued by Chinese Emperors, and the royal dogs were kept in luxury and guarded by soldiers.